Friday, 8 April 2011

Best Actor 1938: Spencer Tracy in Boys Town

Spencer Tracy won his second Oscar from his third nomination for portraying Father Flanagan in Boys Town.

Boys Town tells the story of Father Flanagan who creates a home to help troubled boys, as well as the story of one their hard cases, Whitey Marsh played by Mickey Rooney.

Spencer Tracy's first three nominations and his two wins are quite strange that it is very easy is to argue that he is more of supporting in each film. Well I suppose his screen time grows from each film to film, since finally with this film he is sort of the co-lead, although he disappears during large portions of the film in the middle which focuses mainly on Mickey Rooney as Whitey. 

He is only really the lead at the beginning of the film, where he sees boys in needs, and decides to help them. There is not all that much to really say about Tracy's performance here. There really isn't. His character is exceedingly simple, just a nice priest who wants to help the boys out no matter what, he really is required to do very little.

This performance though I will say I did not think was bad, just unimpressive. He is properly nice, and welcoming in his performance. He is warm enough, and pleasant in the right manner. I guess he does show his character's quiet passion well enough I suppose. The want to help the boys is made genuine by Tracy, but it just does not amount to all that much.

He becomes even less really when he is barely in the film for awhile, pretty much just a background supporting character to the main story about Mickey Rooney. That is until the end of the film, where he questions the lack of a heart in Rooney's character, and then joins his boys, in a very silly scene, to attack gun touting gangsters. Tracy is believable as well in these sterner scenes, but again it really is not anything that needs to really mentioned. It is not a bad performance really, but it certainly is rather underwhelming.


dshultz said...

Yeah, his win was totally unfounded.

Sage Slowdive said...

I never feel any attachment to him as an actor.

dinasztie said...

Yes, it's very underwhelming.